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Once I was in Dubai and we got word that a very excellent Kebab shop was spotted in the deepest darkest area of Al Nahda, in the concrete jungle near the border of Sharjah.
As you know I could not resist, even if the trek to the kebab shop would involve a perilous journey crossing the mighty Dubai Creek and traversing the great airport road, fighting against Indian and Pakistani Taxi wallas on the Sheikh Zayed Road, and then plunging head-on into the Industrial wastelands near Sharjah.
We bade goodbye to our loved ones and, We Jumped into Goblee Foodwala’s brand new supercharged Jaguar SUV and started our journey into the unknown in search of the mythical Kebab Shop.
After crossing the mighty Dubai Creek and skillfully dodging the wild taxis on the Sheikh Zayed Road and traversing the Airport Road, we came to the bleak and desolate industrial wasteland.
We became more and more skeptical that a Kebab Shop could survive in such a hostile environment and every fibre of my rational self screamed to turn back, but NO I had to go on and discover this great Kebab Shop.
We drove deeper and deeper into Al Nahda, it got darker and darker, the lights of the Dubai Skyscrapers disappeared, and old newspapers and rubbish tossed about in the street like tumbleweed.
We could feel the cold, unblinking, staring eyes of the natives emaratis on us from behind the shutters, and as we were about to give up all hope and about to turn back we went around the corner and found an Oasis of light and a hive of activity … we had found the mythical kebab shop! Al Fareej, we stared in marvel and the waiters scurried to and fro carrying huge plates of Adana kebabs and romali roti.
The locals lounged on the carpets and enjoyed the kebabs over the much-animated conversation.
And what kebabs they were, we asked our waiter to bring the most popular kebabs, the sizzling kebabs came on the sword-like skewers and we tore off the meat with our paper-thin romali roti, we were in heaven.
Breaking out of the reverie and coming back to the deepest darkest Harringay, North London we stumbled upon Hala Turkish, it is the area known as Little Istanbul, the street is as if the grand bazaar of Istanbul had been taken out of Istanbul and plonked in the middle of North London.
We decided to pick Hala from countless other kebab shops on the Grand Parade, possibly because it was the busiest restaurant in the street.
As we entered the restaurant was a frenzy of activity, chic cosmopolitan affluent Turks sat side by side by traditionally dressed Kurds.
We kicked off the proceedings with some hot and cold mezze.
We got a selection of the following
Humus, Turkish Humus is more grainy than Hymus from Levant but was nice and tangy
Şakşuka, A Vegetable and Aubergine ragout served cold, lovely, and earthy
Sarma, Vive leaves stuffed with Burgar wheat, strangely delicious eaten with the house chili dip
Kısır, Bulgar and sour pomegranate juice salad
Ispanak Tarator, sauteed spinach folded with Turkish Yogurt, delicious
Yoğurtlu Patlıcan sauteed Aubergine tossed in Turkish Yogurt
The pan-fried Turkish beef sausage was delicious and spicy, perfect for cutting the creamy yogurt-based meze
The Chicken Shish was next up. slightly marinated cubes of Chicken breast cooked on an open ocakbasi grill, the chicken was slightly dry, it would have much more succulent if the thigh was used instead.
Delicious succulent cubed lamb leg, lightly seasoned and grilled without losing its natural juices, Andy Foodwala who is not a great fan of Lamb actually liked it.
The piece de la resistance, hand-ground lamb with onions, chili, and spices expertly cooked on the sword-like skewer, my favorite type of kebab, but would have been perfect if it was served on a Lavash flatbread and the delicious meaty juices were absorbed by the bread.
The Mezze was fresh and flavorsome expertly prepared, could not fault
The Grilled mains were again delicious, the Adana Kebab would have been even more delicious if it was accompanied with some Lavash bread, but that is just a minor point, the Adana Kebab was not mined but chopped finely and was a perfect consistency.
The Service was perfunctory, neither excellent nor poor, it was just functional.
However!, I found a Long ladies hair at the end of the meal. just saying.
The Star of the Meal?
The Adana Kebab was definitely the star
The miss of the Meal?
So how did Hala compare with its ocakbasi peers?
The Two best Turkish restaurants in London so far has been The Liman in the Angel and Mangal ocakbasi in Dalston.
Further afield the best I have visited has been Sur ocakbasi in Istanbul and the Incirlik ocakbasi in Adana.
While Hala was good for North London, but way behind its more traditional brethren.
The Chicken, Beef, and Lamb is confirmed 100% Halal
NO Alcohol is served on the Premises
NO Pork is served on the Premises
100% impartial Guarantee
Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not except free meals in return for meals
All reviews are the personal opinion of Alfie Foodwala based on his 30-year experience as a restauranteur.